Kavita Daiya

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20122013 Forum on Peripheries

Kavita Daiya

Associate Professor, English
The George Washington University

Peripheral Secularisms: Stories of Refugees, Citizenship and Migration in Modern India, 1947-2010

This research dwells on how 'peripheral secularisms' emerge at the margins of national community in public sphere narratives – literature, film, and oral testimony - about the 1947 Partition of India and its migrations. Engaging Talal Asad's conception of 'the secular' as a presence continually invented through embodied practices and representations, this project invites us to a more capacious engagement with refugees' stories that reveal how minorities and refugee-citizens forge a secular, agonistic relation to the modern Indian nation. Distinct from both 'cosmopolitics,' and 'cosmopolitanism,' I contend that this ethical secularism, born from the minority's condition of ethnic displacement and cultural loss, enables us to map an important and unexpected story of subaltern secularism that recasts normative citizenship in the postcolonial state.